Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Opinion

April 20, 2014

Good opportunity

MSU’s Craft Academy likely to be successful program

ASHLAND — Morehead State University is using a highly successful program for outstanding high school juniors and seniors at Western Kentucky University to launch a similar program beginning in the fall of 2015 on the MSU campus.

If the demanding, academically rigorous program works as well on the Morehead campus as it does at WKU — and we have no reason to believe it will not — Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics provides a superb opportunity for outstanding high school juniors and seniors to receive a topflight education without leaving this region. It should fit in well with dual credit college courses Holy Family plans to offer as its first high courses in many years, the increasing number of Advanced Placement classes area high schools are offering and other programs designed to offer students college credit while still in high school. 

MSU officials announced last week Craft Academy will enroll its first class of 60 high school juniors in the fall of 2015. The 16-to-18-year-old students will live on the MSU campus and attend college classes with university students and taught by MSU faculty.  Sixty more high school juniors will be added to Craft Academy in the fall of 2016 for an enrollment of 120.

Obviously, Craft Academy at Morehead is not for everyone. Like its counterpart, Gatton Academy at WKU, only the most talented students in science and mathematics need apply. Even teenagers with demonstrated talents in music, the arts or drama are unlikely to be accepted in either school.

That’s because those high school programs are only seeking the best doctors, engineers, scientists and mathematicians of tomorrow. Poets, novelists and artists need not apply. Almost from the day it opened in 2007, Gatton Academy began to impress, leading not only in Kentucky, but throughout the country. U.S News & World Report has repeatedly named Gatton Academiy as the nation’s best high school based on test scores of its students.

Of course, not everyone would call Gatton Academy a great high school. It has classes only for juniors and seniors and fields no sports teams.

However, for a handful of bright and mature students who are committed to doing whatever is necessary to excel, Gatton Academy or Craft Academy may be the perfect places for them.

Senate President  Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, learned the value of Gatton when his daughter was a student there.  “I asked myself, ‘Why do we have something like this only in Western Kentucky?’”

Stivers teamed with House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, to secure a $2.3 million appropriation for Craft Academy in the state budget. The final push that made Craft Academy a certainty came when Allied Resources Partners CEO Joe Craft  donated $4 million to fund the academy named in his honor.  The pledge is the single largest gift to Morehead State, President Wayne D. Andrews said.  Gatton Academy has always attracted a handful of gifted students from this region, but with the addition of a similar academy at Morehead State, those numbers are expected to greatly increase. And that can only benefit the entire region.

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